Thousands of Trump supporters descended upon Washington, D.C., on Saturday to protest the president’s loss in the 2020 election.
The demonstrations turned physically violent at many points, the Associated Press reports, as pro-Trump protesters clashed with counter-protesters and members of the white supremacist Proud Boys destroyed Black Lives Matter signs at two different predominantly Black churches. Four people ended up going to the hospital with stab wounds, and nearly two dozen others were arrested by the Metropolitan Police Department.
The rallies—held in anticipation of Monday’s Electoral College vote, at which president-elect Joe Biden is expected to be formally elected the 46th president of the United States—disturbed local organizers with Black Lives Matter D.C. for many obvious reasons. Chief among them: Some organizers claim to have seen MPD officers protecting the Proud Boys’ and other pro-Trump protesters’ efforts while failing to protect counter-protesters and other local community members caught in the former group’s path.
“The people of D.C. need to be clear MPD physically protected white supremacists, as they threatened lives, damaged historic churches, and destroyed and burned property,” BLM D.C. core organizer April Goggans told NBC News4 Washington. “MPD allowed Proud Boys to physically attack D.C. residents who stood against white supremacy.”
Rev. Dr. Ianther M. Mills, the senior pastor at one of the churches that the Proud Boys targeted, said that the attack on her congregation—a long-practiced form of anti-Black violence in the U.S.—left her feeling “indignant” yet “determined to fight the evil that has reared its ugly head.”
“We had been so confident that no one would ever vandalize the church, but it has happened,” she told News4.